I’m sorry I couldn’t be there today to celebrate your life. It is for this reason I am writing this letter.
When I joined MarketSource, we were a mid-size company in a big building. I was in Sales. You were somewhere else.
With the wide eyes of a 25 year-old who had spent most of her time on this planet in a small corridor between New York and Philadelphia, I remarked—okay, I might’ve gushed—to my boss that I hoped to get to work with you. He smirked (or maybe that was just his face).
When we moved to the new offices, we were a small business—well, depending on who was asking—and I had the good fortune of being seated near you.
By this circumstance, you shape-shifted from a mythical, statue of a man to an equally compelling but much more accessible person. A person with Ideas, of course. Work Ideas, like building a coffee and chocolate café on behalf of a shampoo brand for brunettes.
You had Real Life ideas too, like naming your son Trent Morrison; a rock star name derived or at least affably related to the likes of Rezner, Jim, and Van. It didn’t matter; to you he was The Boy.
Like on a trip to Chicago, where our mutually bad senses of direction caused us to miss our flight home. To Ruth’s Chris we went, where you educated me in the merits of a perfectly cooked steak and when it’s okay to bust a $35 per diem. Lessons you wouldn’t find in a textbook or even a brainstorm.
And then there was that time my immediate supervisor picked a fight with me about some market research that wasn’t exactly favorable to our program. On the brink of tears, you invited me into your office and, with a look and no words, told me everything I needed to know about my boss being a horse’s ass, and to pay it no further mind. That was the beginning of my second life, one in which I can see authority, but know when to deviate from it.
You were an early adopter in all of the retro-futuristic things we are doing today. Simplicity. Quality. Flavored seltzer. Double denim. Should we be looking backwards to see forward??
But as I get older and wiser, I think mentors are kind of for the birds. Wise? Usually. Admirable? Sure. But what a mentor lacks, in my opinion, is the ability to forge a true connection. A mentor feels a little untouchable. So I won’t call you a mentor, Pete, because you touched me, in my career and my life. That’s why, given the chance to move from a cubicle to an office, I declined. I had more left to learn, and I chose you as the man to do it from.
Rest easy, Pete. I know you’re on that schooner with a branded sail—the one that always made it to our pitch decks—in the sky.